Brida Anderson

Urban Fantasy

Tag: children (page 1 of 2)

Breathe, life is good!

Written for you on the 12h of February.

I read a blogpost by Elizabeth Gilbert today (“The Best Thing you can do for yourself – and all the women around you“) and it resonated into my evening. It’s just past 9 PM now and the youngest (3) is finally sleeping. He’s transitioning from napping in the afternoon to not napping. You remember that horrible time? When they’re cranky all afternoon if they don’t nap but if you put them down to sleep, they resist with the power of pure thunder. :-) If they do sleep, even if it’s only for 40 minutes, they have a hard time falling asleep in the evening and keep waking up at night.

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One of those days, anyway.

So he was sleeping, I had snatched my notebook from the study and was on my way downstairs to write to you, carrying in my other arm a load of “woops, potty training”-clothes from my youngest. I could bemoan that it’s only 9 PM and I’m SO VERY tired.  Again. But you know what? Life is good.

Elizabeth Gilbert is right. We have to stop comparing ourselves and bemoaning our shortcomings. Yes, it would be lovely if my children hadn’t been sick this past week, if the nursery hadn’t had to close because of some foul water rising up through the ground. I’d be further into my projects, for one thing, closer to bringing them out into the world. Into your hands. Does it count? Should it make me sad that, like all moms I know, I’m galloping on the spot because the day has many hours but not enough to do all that I plan to do? No.

Life is good because: My youngest is sleeping soundly, with a smile on his face, and before he fell asleep, he tried to sing along with me to an old lullabye.

Life is good because my husband and my older son are giggling in the bedroom. My son has a bronchitis currently and needs to inhale twice a day with a (loud) nebulizer machine. To sweeten that time for him and because my son is sensitive to loud noise, my husband had the idea to put noise-cancelling headphones on them both (with a connector) and to watch silly cartoons or comedians with him while he inhales. My son loves this quality time with dad and it’s so great to see them giggle and laugh about the same things. :-)

The sound of their chuckling fades as I continue on down the stairs. Life is good because: The first thing I see in the living room is our kitten, curled up in the “knightly castle” the kids and I put up in the middle of the living room today.
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She loves the sheltered space and stretches contently when I come closer. There’s an armchair waiting for me and the notebook, and, if I Iike, a very nice white wine is waiting in the fridge. My husband found it for me in the one (1) shop here that is allowed to sell alcohol. What a treat! I can sip the wine while I dive back into writing Poison Patch.

Life is good because I get time to write, in the quiet of the living room, with a purring cat for company — and the scene I have the pleasure to write for Poison Patch today is a playful bathhouse scene in Faerie, complete with naked yummy elves and gentle caresses under a waterfall. Maybe it will make it into the final manuscript, maybe not. But it sure is a treat to write.

Life is good, hm? :-)

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I’d love to talk to you. Due to an avalanche of spam, I had to close comments on the blog. If you’d like to comment on this blogpost, please talk to me on Facebook or on Twitter instead.

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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Puddle splashing

It must be my kids’ favorite activity in Doha: puddle splashing.
Since this is Doha in the desert state of Qatar we’re talking about and not your daily stroll through a forest back home in rainy Europe, “puddle splashing” doesn’t involve rubber boots and mud. (More’s the pity.) It calls for a SUV and a mom with nerves of steel. ;-)

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This is the sight that makes my kids shriek with glee when we drive through the compound gates on our morning school run. The puddles are much deeper than they look. Even with an SUV, you get the feeling you’re more swimming than driving. The limousine drivers take long detours or are a hazard for other traffic because they drive around puddles — regardless if they head into oncoming traffic or over a sidewalk. Doha, eh?
This is a typical street of Doha after one night of a little rain.
Seriously gentle rain.

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My youngest couldn’t sleep last night, so I took him outside to “feel the rain”. We stretched out our hands and you could feel the waterdrops touching your skin but they were so light, even after five minutes your hand wouldn’t even get wet.

My son was mesmerized nonetheless: “Rain, mom! Look!” He ran inside, yelling for his dad to “come outside and look! It’s raining!!”
It feels really weird to me that rain is something this special to him. He is 3,5 years old, has lived in Qatar for almost a year now. He doesn’t remember a time when he had thick, pelting rains all through spring, fall and winter, sometimes even all through summer. He doesn’t remember going crazy with his older brother in huge puddles, mud and water splashing up high …

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Puddle splashing means: driving through the puddles at high speed (at least high in my kids’ perception ;-). The goal is to make the water fountain up to the roof. We had sooo much fun last spring, when for the first time it had rained for 2 days straight. Some roads had totally disappeared under water. The trek to school was an adventure for my kids.

They always roll their eyes when SUVs much bigger than ours and better equipped evade the puddles, driving like some stoned granny at 5 km/hour in weaving curves so their car doesn’t get muddy … Usually, the driver doesn’t look like s/he’s from a country with much rain. (To phrase it very politically correct, I hope.)
Yes, there could be rocks hidden in the water or deep ruts. Doha’s roads are in notorious bad shape. But what’s a little risk to your car if you can make your kids squeal with delight? ;-)

Here’s a short film from last December. The puddles weren’t deep yet, it had just started to rain.

The road I drive past before the movie ends is completely flooded as soon as it rains for more than 1 day. Now imagine Doha last spring, when it rained for 3 days …

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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson writes Urban Fantasy and Steampunk.  Hedge Games released in December 2013. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Using your BBQ to indulge your spiritual side

Playing with fire is one of the best ways (especially for parents*) to cleanse the mind after a stressful day.

Fire on its own is already a great way to literally burn away stress: the warmth, the concentration on lighting the fire/coals. You can add to that effect by tossing herbs on the fire/coals — either instead of regular BBQ or after you’re done with the food.

Different spices/herbs/resins have different properties.

via Flickr. "Burning Coals" by HereStanding, Creative Commons

via Flickr. “Burning Coals” by HereStanding, Creative Commons

* Why is this a good idea for parents?

Fire is one of the few areas that are off-limits for kids. When you tinker with a BBQ or a fireplace, they need to keep their distance. Which instantly promotes that feeling of “I’m finally doing something grown-up here” after a summer-day spent running after toddlers. ;-) And way better for the figure than that other “I’m a grown-up”-action, drinking a glass of wine.

via Flickr. "Untitled" by A Pillow of Winds, Creative Commons

via Flickr. “Untitled” by A Pillow of Winds, Creative Commons

Ingredients for cleansing smoke

What you need you probably already have in the kitchen.

How about tossing on

  • a stick of cinnamon bark
  • rosemary, peppermint or thyme sprigs
  • dried sage leaves
  • dried juniper berries
  • dried camomile blossoms (the kind you can buy for tea)

You can also use mixes and resins on the BBQ which are especially sold to be used for incense burning, e.g.

  • myrrh
  • a mix of sweetgrass/juniper/white sage
  • pine resin

All of these have been used for ages in burning incense, each chosen for their different properties.

  •  Sage (on its own or in mixes) is ideal for promoting a clear head and relaxation
  • Cinnamon is perfect when you’re feeling hassled – no wonder we scarf down cinnamon rolls when we’re feeling stressed ;-)
  • Thyme helps fight feelings of fear
  • Pine resin when you’re feeling exhausted and can’t find the energy to do anything.
  • Peppermint when you’re feeling restless.
  • Camomile induces a feeling of relaxation and release.

If thinking about any deeper effects feels too esoteric for you, just enjoy the scents. :-)

How to

Simply toss a sprig/ pinch of one or two ingredients on the hot coals at a time. Don’t mix too many or you’ll run for cover ;-)

via Flickr. "Coals on Fire" by Areeb Anwer, Creative Commons

via Flickr. “Coals on Fire” by Areeb Anwer, Creative Commons

In case you’re wondering: This blogpost came about while researching relaxation techniques for my new book “Mama macht mal Pause!” (“Mom’s taking a break”). Since the book is in German, I thought I’d share some of it with you over the next weeks. :-)

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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Mom-bloggers and mom-writers unite!

Wow, it’s been crazy here, trying to write on deadline while the kids are on school/nursery vacation.

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It’s the first year of school for our oldest son, so I’m used to a maximum of 3 weeks vacation from his kindergarten days back in Germany. Here in Qatar, he has almost 9 weeks of summer vacation. 9 weeks!

We enrolled our youngest (3) in summer camp at his nursery. Which whittled his 8 weeks of vacation down to 4 weeks …

Whatever possessed me to agree to a deadline for a project that falls into my boys’ vacation? Well. I had planned to be done with the book before vacation even started. While moving thousands of miles abroad … Cough. Still, I almost managed. But that last sprint to the finish line kept eluding me.

So, here we are. 4 weeks of trying to write a nonfiction book and blogposts alongside a constantly prattling 3-year old. Who, of course, has just he entered into the infamous “Why?”-phase.

“Why’s that?”

“But why?”

“And why’s that?”

“Why don’t you know?

“Why …?”

… on and on  ;-) (Do you know the Louis CK sketch about the WHY?)

I’m also entering the last corrections into my Western-Aetherpunk short story … or I would be, if we hadn’t left for vacation. Where we promptly caught a stomach-bug and took turns being sick. (“Why are you holding your stomach, mom?” “Why do you need this bucket?” … LOL)

The crux is: We’re back in Qatar now. Here, it’s too hot, humid and sunny during the day to do anything outside. Even swimming is out of the question. Sunshade over the pool or the playground? That’s for sissies, apparently.

You’d think that the Qataris would have long caught on and built pleasure domes for families. Every bigger city in Germany has those artificial rec spaces, usually with indoor swimming pools, sauna, kid activities. But also with aquariums, Lego Centres, you name it. Here, everything is out under the sun, except for the malls. Weird. No, don’t get me started on the cramped indoor playgrounds in Qatar … I dubbed them Las Vegas for kids. = :-/

So life outside starts at sunset. Going swimming. Going to the playground. (The lights at the playground have been broken for a while. “Don’t hworry mamsir, we fix it.”)

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Playground after dark in Doha, Qatar

And I write during the kids’ afternoon siesta. Or I try to. A day of “why? why? waaaah! want X, want Y! Moooom!” isn’t exactly helping to write with a fresh mind.

It’s been a week only since we got back but we’re running out of indoor-activities that can hold a 3-year-olds attention. It wouldn’t be hard to entertain my 7-year old indoors. He’s fallen in love with crafting, he loves playing boardgames and painting. But the day is loooooooong when matched against a 3-year-old’s attention span and you can’t take him outside.

I tried my NanoWriMo routine of getting up before the kids but that only worked while we were on vacation. In Qatar, our youngest has started waking again in the night repeatedly – from nightmares, the air-condition or the crushing heat. So he ends up staying with us — and gets up with me. “Why are you sneaking off to your computer?”

(On the other hand – who can resist this little guy? :-)

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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

tendril_small

brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Running after boys

I was racing after my two boys into Villagio Mall, when I saw this poster of Merida and came to a screeching stop to snap it for you. Very much fitting the mood, especially for a redhead mom :-)

#mom-writer #boys

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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

tendril_small

brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Finding inner calm … on vacation with the kids

A reader sent me a lovely message about “Hedge Games” through the Facebook page and today posted the book’s first review on Amazon.co.uk. So wonderful. I fairly danced with joy. :-)

Especially wonderful and motivating because the deadline for my next book is looming up. Nonfiction. “Finding calm inside yourself” (rough translation of the German title) is due at the publisher in the middle of August.

We’re on vacation, we all got sick with a stomach bug (no writing for a week), we had to gather together supplies for a week-long medieval-LARP event next week. (Still organizing stuff like sleeping bags and food that won’t spoil without a fridge.)

I was tearing my hair out the past weeks, muttering “How do you actually find the calm to write about inner calm when you have two kids racing around you?!”.

Since we arrived at my parents-in-laws’ place, a little transformation has occurred in the kids. In us.

Detail from the garden

Detail from the garden

 

My in-laws live in the middle of this beautiful landscape, right in the middle of Germany, in a house with a large garden. Unlike in Doha/Qatar or in the city where we stayed for vacation before, you’re not woken by cars revving up just outside or by motorbikes screaming out their pent-up power when the light changes to green. Here, you’re woken by birdsong (or one very insistent dove, right now). The kids sleep in forever, for the first time. Yay!

What’s even better: I fall out of bed, feeling refreshed, at 6 or 7. I could snuggle up and read or do yoga outside, but for the sake of the deadline I sit at my computer and write.

Today, only 2 guided meditations are left to write and the affirmations that will go on every page. Space is quite limited in the layout, that’s why I am still polishing the meditations. They could go on for 7 pages without any problem, but all I have is 1 page for each. Too bad, because one meditation is “Taking Flight” … in a soap bubble balloon; one is “Bathing in Gold” – you imagine yourself under a waterfall with golden sparkling water … Believe me, you don’t want to leave after just one page ;-)

If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

Procrastination-Challenge. Day 0 — First Stumbles

Hey, procrastination challenge wasn’t even a few hours old when I ran into my first roadblock. I had totally forgotten that this Thursday (last workday of the week here in Qatar) I was booked at my son’s school. They did a sleepover from Wednesday to Thursday. And my job was to show up at 7 am (with 5 other moms), to prep breakfast for 14 ravenous and sleep-deprived kids and then do crafts with them all day until at 1 PM their parents would pick them up again.
So much for Day 1 of the No-Procrastination Challenge. %-)

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I took my notebook to school with me, in case some free time would miraculously appear. Hope is eternal, right? ;-)

I didn’t manage to get in some writing time, but it was still time well spent, getting to know my son’s new school, his teacher and the other children in his class.

The ice-breaker were my shoes ;-) Vibram toe-shoes. A lot of kids came over to our table to ask me questions. “Why do you wear such freaky shoes?” When I said “because they’re really comfy and you can climb all trees in them”, they were duly impressed and asked for help with their craft project. ;-)

A day well-spent. :-) Just not very productive for my current writing projects.

Expat Life: When Monday is Sunday …

In the Middle East, the weekend runs from Friday to Saturday, not Saturday to Sunday. More or less all over the place, there are special opening hours for shops on Friday, you have the day off work (unless you work in retail, or food) … So you just shift your week by a day, right? It’s not as straightforward as that …
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Friday — time for some pool lounging after the sun has set

In the non-muslim world, you’re used to a weekend of Saturday and Sunday. Depending on where you live, Sunday is the quiet day of the week. In Germany, more or less all shops are closed. All of the day. There are hardly any cars on the street before noon. The only shops open are at gas stations and bakeries. You do your shopping on Friday evening (to avoid the masses – which never really works out ;-) or on Saturday. Sunday is for the family, for recharging, lengthy gaming or other hobby-sessions.

In the Middle East, Friday is more or less comparable to the non-Muslim Sunday.
Only: Shops do open after 2 PM.
If you’re lucky, you can find a big supermarket that opens from 8 onwards. No bakery with open doors and fresh breadrolls at 7 am! Imagine the shock to a German ! ;-) (Thanks to Carrefour, you can at least get fresh baguette, croissants beurre and pain au chocolat.)

In some places, shops open at 10, but then close over noon, for noon-prayer. (If you want to see scenes straight out of Waiting for Godot, go to the Doha IKEA on Friday at noon. It’s out of the city, so everyone who doesn’t pray just hangs around at the cafeteria, waiting for the prayer time to be over. Cafeteria closes for one hour, too, so you need to stock up hastily before it does.)

The famous Friday-brunches start around noon, approximately.
We aren’t sure how other residents with small children do it. They probably also have breakfast at home and then go out for “elvensies” with their kids. If you have a 2-year old who jumps out of bed at 5:30 am, noon feels about a day away :-)

Both Friday and Saturday start slow here. We managed to have Doha’s famous Aspire park and its big playground more or less to ourselves because we arrived early in the morning. When we left at 10, people were battling each other for parking spaces, almost coming to blows with their picnic hampers. We drove over to Villagio Mall, found a parking spot right away. Left at noon when it got too crowded — and saw scenes out of apocalypse-movies on the parking lot. You’d think Villagio was the zombie-relief shelter and the only one left at that. Cars park on the lanes, up on boulders, block the exit routes … Which is usual for Villagio mall unless you come before the shops are open.

The next day is Saturday. Which is almost identical to Saturday in other parts of the world. People go shopping (people always go shopping, here, though), have birthday parties or other activities for the kids.
What is hard to get used to:

  • you don’t ease into the weekend like you do with the Saturday/ Sunday flow. You first have the quiet day, then the shopping/home-improvement/whatnot day, then it’s already back to work and school.
  • you’re out of sync with friends and family. Their typical “skyping in peace” day is Sunday. Which is a regular weekday for you in the Middle East.

The plus side:

  • a 2-day weekend is a 2-day weekend, on whatever days you find them.
  • you can go shopping every day, even until late at night. Visitors to Germany must go stir-crazy on Sundays there when everything is closed, public transport more or less shuts down, …
  • The week starts with Sunday. But does it really? ;-) There are hardly any organized (mom-)activities on Sunday and driving to the school, you run into a lot less traffic than on any other weekday. I can only guess at the reason. Some parents don’t give their kids into nursery on Sunday? A lot of expats in Qatar don’t work on Sundays? Fact is that Sunday and Monday are both considered “the start of the week” at work and school. Here, they’ve invented a SOFT START to the week. Isn’t that simply alluring when comparing it to our harsh Monday mornings? ;-)
  • So you have a soft start on Sunday and Monday. Then there’s Tuesday and Wednesday as regular weekdays. Only on Wednesday, you already see the weekend beckoning up ahead: the next day is Thursday. Yay.
    And Thursday afternoon is inofficially the “third” weekend-day here. Kids are picked up early from school. There is no homework (at least at our school, at elementary school level) and the kids can watch a movie at school. There’s lots of kids-get togethers later. Often, work lets off early and parents can both join. There’s CRAZY shopping. Driving through Doha, you can see kids on playgrounds at 10 at night, with their families gathered around, chatting on picnic blankets. It’s a very playful, summer-y atmosphere.

Creating a fairy house with kids

Saturday morning in Qatar (which is a Friday morning in the rest of the world): I get out the painting and drawing utensils to give my youngest some much-needed free art time. (Much needed because his nursery here in Qatar is very much different from a German one, even though we tried to find one with a more relaxed schedule. More on that some other time.)”Tinterbell!” he shouts (he’s turning 3 soon). “Want Tinterbell!” He shoves the DVD with “Tinkerbell – The Great Fairy Rescue” under my nose.
“You can watch TV later, now we want to paint a little.”
He flat out refuses. Until I have the idea: “We’ll create a fairy-house. Like Lizzy does in the movie!”
Both children whoop with excitement.
I love it that they’re still at that age (the oldest is 7) where they can totally excited about stuff like that. :-)

Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue

We get out all the “raw materials” I have been saving for weeks now. There’s not a lot of crafting supplies for kids to be found in Qatar, at least not the kind that’s so cheap you don’t wince when a 2-year old goes to town with it and creates … uh … marvelous architecture from a box of stuff and a ton of glue and paint in 20 minutes. ;-)
So I saved all sorts of food containers, buttons, cardboard. Bought feathers, pipe cleaners, beads. Fabric scraps at IKEA (I guess you could also get great stuff at the Souqs but I haven’t ventured that far yet; just for some evening strolling and dinner).
Pair that with kid-friendly colors for the 2-year old plus acrylic colors and mediums for the 7-year old and me.We ended up making 3 separate houses but we all together created the biggest one. The youngest got distraugt after an hour (!) of cutting, painting and gluing that the house “won’t be ready when Tinterbell wants to go to bed”. I assured him Tinker Bell would be fine, but he grabbed another cardboard box, glued some knitting yarn inside, splashed color over it and hurried outside with it so it was “ready when she comes”. :-)
I hope he won’t be too disappointed when no fairy has moved into after we wake him from his nap now :-)

My oldest decided to create his own house, also from a shoe box, to test out different color schemes and because he wanted to glue “jewels” onto the floor, like a treasure map.

I’m still super-astonished that he could concentrate on this task longer even than me. After 4 hours of painting, glueing, carving, … he was still totally focused. I, on the other hand, was yearning for more coffee, the couch … and kept nudging him that “actually, we had wanted to play Pandemic while your brother is napping … ” No chance.
I can highly suggest this project for anyone (with or without kids) who loves to work with mixed media! We ended up using everything in our arsenal: gold, different mediums, glitter dust (on the bed, the roof, the fairy bath tub), modeling paste for the roof structure (isn’t really visible on the photos), found objects that were turned into furniture, fabric … In Europe, I would have used much more twigs, moss, … for a fairy house.

The roof will later be covered with large leaves we made weeks ago from salt-dough. :-)
It’s a good mind-cleanse, akin to meditation, to play with “fairy color”-schemes, with light-reflecting objects, small bells, nature materials.

Life as an Expat: The 3-month challenge

Did you know there’s a pattern to adjusting to expat life? That you can more or less mark a date ahead in your calendar when life abroad will suck?
But it’s like the growth spurts of a baby (the parents among you will know what horrors these two innocent words can entail ;-) ) — even if you know they will happen around a certain time, you’re never prepared for it. Vaguely knowing that everything will suck from one day to the next and sitting up all of the night, wondering if you made a terrible mistake in ripping your children, yourself, your family life from safe moorings … Two very different things.
Tornado Tower, Doha, Qatar. Photo by Brida Anderson

We’re not in … Kansas anymore: Tornado Tower, Doha
The pattern of adjusting to new surroundings is the same, whether you put your child into nursery or move to a foreign country. It’s always a pattern of 3 when the change will suck ((roughly speaking, of course. Everyone’s different.)  So everything’s fine until: 3 hours in, 3 days in, 3 weeks in, 3 months in (if you’re unlucky/have trouble adjusting: for a multiple of 3 months: after 6 months, 9 months, 12 months), then 3 years in. Next adjustment pains come after 5 years and 7 years.
Now, “pains” is a big word. Depending on how well you cope or how good you are at suppressing, the “pains” someone else feels might just be twitches for you.  A day where everything sucks, and the next day: clear skies.
A lot depends on

  • where you move
  • and how familiar that country is to you,
  • how quickly you feel at home,
  • whether you find a support system (family you brought with you, friends that are already in place),
  • how well you can connect deeply with friends using Facebook, Skype, …
  • whether it’s your first move abroad or just another in a row of experiences abroad
balcony railing with metal tendrils in Qatar. Photo by Brida Anderson

It might be a small thing, but I enjoy the tendency in Qatar to adorn houses – inside and outside – with metalwork that shows vines/tendrils

It might be a small thing, but I enjoy the tendency in Qatar to adorn houses – inside and outside – with metalwork that shows vines/tendrils
We’re well into our fourth month in Qatar and I had thought we were settling into our new life quite well. There was just some stuff that was annoying (well, when isn’t there anything that’s annoying ;-) and the vague feeling that something wasn’t right.
It may sound silly but it took me this long to realize that I was holding my breath in Qatar. I didn’t talk to anyone in Skype, unless I had to. I didn’t send any emails to some of my friends while the other emails were more attempts to paint a picture of this new home for them, as if they were poised to travel here and I wanted to prepare them. I didn’t realize the pattern until last night. If I only ‘hold my breath’ long enough, Qatar won’t become a reality. Every time I talk to a friend, every “normal” email I’d usually exchange would cement the reality that I am stuck here, thousands of miles from my friends and family. So if I only hold still, if I don’t breathe, it will pass and I’ll wake up back home.
Yeah, it sounds crazy writing it like this. It wasn’t at all a conscious thought process. But realizing the pattern startled me: Is life in Qatar so bad that I wanted to “wake up” at home?
The answer is: no. Of course there’s plenty of stuff that’s jarring for someone moving to this country. But that’s the case for most countries you move to. Just the details differ. What made it unthinkable to “breathe”, to really arrive in our life here, was the thought that it meant I had really left my family and friends thousands of miles behind. They probably don’t need any “briefings” on Qatar because who knows if they’ll ever make the trip here. My husband famously summed up Qatar’s attraction for tourists as “you can see all of the sights in a day”. That was 3 years ago, but still holds true today. Maybe it’s 2-3 days now ;-)
So who’ll spend a small fortune flying here?
Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised when in autumn and winter friends and family will be running into our door. But I don’t think I should hold my breath. So Skype and email will be the only link I have to my friends. Which is something I just can’t wrap my head around. I’m a Skype newb, I’m shy, not really the type to hop up and down in front of a camera. But I’ll have to learn.
To get over the blues, I made a list of things I really love about our new life here. I did that when I was living in New York and it beat the sudden flight of homesickness.
I’m not gonna publish all the little things here, but some of them, just as examples: To count your blessings. What do you have in your new life that you could never have in your old?
For me, that’s our house here. The compound we live in. The tendency of the Qataris to decorate houses and balconies and stairwells with metal tendrils (see photo above). Most of all: Having a beautiful pool in 2 minute walking distance, and having it all to myself in the morning. I’ll only have that in Qatar, I’m sure. At which point I realized that because my children and we were sick for most of the past 6 weeks, I haven’t been swimming in said pool for over 6 weeks. No wonder I was feeling down …
What’s your experience with the first months of adjusting to life abroad?
What’s the small things that made you happy?
Pool in Compound in Doha, Qatar. Spring 2014. Photo by Brida Anderson
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